The discoveries of the Renaissance brought major changes to the lives of people throughout the civilized world, and especially in Europe.
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Inventions such as the telescope, the compass, the printing press and many other discoveries during this period initiated a time of change that would build the foundation for scientific discovery and in the process, transform human lives. Among these inventions, a major technological advancement can be attributed to the development of the printing press after a German named Johannes Gutenberg developed a movable printing device in 1436 (Rubin, para.3).
Before this discovery, manuscripts had to be laboriously copied by hand, a process that was taxing, expensive and time consuming. Yet, with the coming of the printing press, the spread of ideas through the written word was no longer confined by geographical constraints. The discovery of the printing press paved the way for a major transformation to the way of life of people since it allowed knowledge to be shared around on an unprecedented scale.
The invention of the printing press made it possible for the Bible to be translated into many languages, thus promoting regionalism. Prior to the Renaissance, Latin was the common language that was used to pass information from one source to the other. One effect of this dominance of Latin was that only highly educated people, who could understand the language, had the privilege of reading books.
Thus, a huge gap separated those who were able to read and those who could not. The invention of the printing press brought a solution to this problem as various translations of the Bible were made in numerous local languages so that, for the first time, literate people were able to read the Bible in their own language without necessarily having to know Latin. Less educated people from various regions in Europe were now able to read the Bible as much as the educated elite.
Therefore, the translation of the Bible promoted regionalism in Europe as the common folk and the educated elite were united in a common religious interest. The change that began in those early days has survived and grown in today’s world as more and more copies of the Bible are produced in many of the world’s languages.
Besides this, the translation of the Bible also brought about major reformations in the Christian religion. Before the discovery of printing, church officials were the only ones who had the mandate to read the Bible in Latin, and teach their own interpretations to their congregations. Yet, once the Bible could be mass printed in the common languages of the time, people had the opportunity to read the Bible for themselves and make their own judgments.
This revolution in religious practice led to the Protestant movement as people discovered the errors taught by church officials, who had previously held a monopoly on biblical truth. This change is evident in today’s world since the different religious affiliations that were created then are still present, and different sects are still cropping up after individuals read the varied translations of the Bible.
There is little doubt that the discovery of the printing press also initiated and made major changes in the scientific field. The ancient Greeks, who are thought to have developed the scientific method, may have found it too complex and inconvenient to spread scientific information among themselves and to the entire public.
Scientific textbooks were certainly almost non-existent at the time. Yet, once the printing press was developed, scientific information could be spread quickly and accurately from one region to the other. Scientists who were carrying out research in the same area of study in various European countries gained, particularly because they could now share and publish their findings.
In this way, scientists were able to share accurate information with their counterparts, thereby, increasing their knowledge and expertise in various fields of study. It is clear that the rise of the printed word led to the Scientific Revolution of the Enlightenment in the seventeenth century.
These developments radically changed how Europeans, and later the rest of the world, viewed life on our planet. Currently, scientists have continued this practice of sharing information through the printed page with their counterparts in various parts of the world as they publish research and build upon the knowledge base of the past.
The printing of so many books created a need for a large market to ensure that all the books produced were purchased to cover the costs of printing. The authors of various publications were faced with the daunting task of producing books that could attract a large audience. A number of publishers started to embrace the notion of capitalism to ensure that they would succeed in selling the publications.
Therefore, the widespread printing of books generated the need for a market for them, even despite the fact that the initial runs were not so large. In these circumstances, where there was an increased need for books, consumerism and commercialism started to take root. People’s thirst for knowledge increased as they strove to be at per with the cultural, religious and technological developments that were taking place.
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The practice of exchanging goods and services for monetary gain had always been a way of life for human beings. Now, the advent of capitalism allowed Europe’s economy to prosper as avenues of trade were opened up by the invention of the printing press and the spread of the printed word. This practice has survived into today’s world as authors and publishers take great pains, through advertising, book-movie tie-ins, and celebrity endorsements, to ensure that the books they produce attract a large number of readers as possible.
A German named Martin Waldseemuller authored Cosmographiae Introductio, a book that was intended to accompany the map of the world, the Universalis Cosmographia (Teele, para. 2; “About this item,” para.1). It is believed to have been published on April 25, 1507. The book records the first appearance of the name “Amerigo” or “America.”
The book and the map, together with the Geography authored in 1513 by Ptolemy, received so much public admiration that several copies were made around that time. Although some people attribute the work to Mathias Ringman, a number of scholars agree that Waldseemuller authored the book.
In support of the name he gave to the New World, Waldseemuller states in the book that he sees no valid reason to prevent the calling of that part of the world Amerigo, after the Italian navigator and merchant Amerigo Vespucci, whom he believed was the first to “discover” that part of the world.
Waldseemuller honored Vespucci by putting his name on the 1507 map on account of the explorer’s great ability, as opposed to Europe and Asia, which got their names from females. A thousand copies of the map were printed from wood engravings measuring 18 × 24.5 inches.
Out of these copies, only one is currently available thanks to a preservation method accredited to the cartographer, Johannes Schomer. The map is made up of twelve sections created by the Ptolemaic coniform projection with meridians that are curved to illustrate the whole surface of our planet.
“About this item.” Exploring the Early Americas. Library of Congress. 2009. Web.
Rubin, Julian. “The invention of the Movable Type.” Following the Path of Discovery. 2009. Web.
Teele, Elinor. “The Naming of America by John W. Hessler.” California Literary Review. 2008. Web.